Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Late Fate

I am always late. I have been late my entire life. I don't know how to be on time. I've been working on this problem for my entire existence. It is the nut I cannot crack.

It's not like I run hours behind, usually not. No, my every day problem is that I am running five or ten minutes late. It seems like this should be an easy problem to fix. Just get ready for whatever ten minutes sooner, right? It's not that easy.

I have tried every possible hack to get out of the door on time to no avail. There is some internal disconnect in me that makes time management very hard. I have no instincts here. Whenever I try to start getting ready to leave such that I will be on time, I have to fight all my internal clocks screaming that it is a ridiculous amount of time, that it should not take nearly so long, then time melts into the ether, I don't know what happens, and I am late again.

I do not have the ability to accurately measure the passage of time. I read once that a classic symptom of ADHD is to ask the person to estimate when three minutes have passed. The person with ADHD will say that the three minutes is up when approximately 90 seconds have passed. I have the opposite problem. I call three minutes after five or six minutes. Time not only flies, it evaporates. I do not know how to fix this.

I'm not looking for tips here; I'm explaining the situation.

But occasionally, the stars align. Somehow a miracle happens and I leave the house on time. Not wink wink, drive like a madman on time, but regular person regular on time. Do you know what happens almost every time this minor miracle occurs?

There is an unforeseen and unavoidable traffic jam, and I'm late anyway. That's what happens.

All my heroic effort gets rewarded with the exact same outcome: late as usual. It makes it hardly worth trying.

This post brought to you by the traffic tie-up on a road I wasn't even driving on, which made the dump truck drivers crossing at my intersection feel entitled to run their red light and block my road through three light cycles.

I'll also note there are other cultures in the world in which my deficits would not be considered moral failings. I wish I lived in one of those.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Math Book

See that I am posting two days in a row. I am as shocked as you are, but this is too weird, creepy, providential not to share.

Back in the spring, the plan I made for Sam's 2nd grade math curriculum was to complete the Saxon 1st grade book and then skip ahead to the Saxon 3rd grade book, since I had been assured the 2nd grade book was essentially a repeat of 1st grade material. I own the Saxon 3 teacher book, picked up at a used curriculum sale three years ago, and do not own the Saxon 2 book so this plan was very convenient for my finances.

All summer I had the nagging thought that I needed to locate the math book, but I wasn't terribly concerned about it. I knew I owned it. I also knew there were limited places it could be in the house. I have kept the homeschooling materials fairly contained. I thought the task of finding the book would be simple and quickly completed so I procrastinated.

On Friday, Sam and I completed Saxon 1 so the day for finding the book could not be put off any longer. We were scheduled to start Saxon 3 on Monday.

About midday on Saturday, I went upstairs to where I am almost 100% sure the book resides. The book is not there. Huh. Well, I must have put it in one of the great piles of books I created over the summer. It's not there either. Hmmm. Maybe it's just been buried under papers in the downstairs bookcase. No. Did I find it already, forget I had found it, and it's already sitting in the holding spot for this year's materials? No. Is it buried on the bench upstairs? No. Is it in my room in the corner of used school stuff? I don't have time today to dig it out and look. I'll have to try that spot tomorrow.

Where on earth did I put this book? All afternoon I would think of another place it might be, go check, and come up empty.

Finally as I was getting ready for bed, I had the flashing thought that maybe I had let someone borrow the book. I don't remember giving it to anyone. It was as close to a false memory as a memory can be, but what the heck. The thing is that the last time I definitively remember seeing this book was right before I got pregnant with Ella. I have lost a lot of memory cells since then.

There are a limited number of people I could have possibly lent the book so it wouldn't hurt to ask around. Because I wasn't sure if I was making it all up in my head out of desperation to explain how I lost a giant spiral-bound book, I was hesitant to reach out. I decided to swallow my pride, and approaching midnight, I sent out a text to five or six people asking if they had any idea about my math book. Then I turned off my phone.

This morning when I turned my phone back on, I had a cascade of negative answers waiting on me. No one knew anything about my math book. I didn't really think so since I didn't really remember handing it out. I'll have to dig out that corner in my room after all.

Here is where it gets weird.

We went to Mass. Afterwards H, the woman who manages the homeschool lending library at our parish and was one of the recipients of my desperation text, approaches me and says K, a woman from a different parish, had dropped off a few of hodgepodge books to donate to the lending library this week. Coincidentally, one of the books in the box is exactly the Saxon 3 teacher guide I am searching for. H says that since the homeschool library already has a copy of the book and these new donations have not yet been entered into the library database, she is just going to give me this book. If ever my book turns up, I can donate the extra copy then.

What is the likelihood the exact book I am looking for is donated the very weekend I need it? As I am contemplating this profound coincidence, H goes to get the book for me. I am blown away.

But Wait! There's more!

She arrives with the book. Again I am amazed this book should happen to surface at the moment I need it. I take the book and begin to flip through the book as one does.

And there, on the first page I open, is my own handwriting staring back at me. There is my hastily drawn, messy numbers in purple colored pencil. This is my MO.

What?! How?!

I take this book to my sister, who is unaware of the subdrama. "Does this look like my handwriting?" "Yes." "I THINK SO TOO!!"

I flip some more and find more evidence of my own handwriting.

Reader, this *IS* my book. The front cover is even creased in the same spot.

How did K get it? It's so improbable she borrowed it from me because she is a homeschooling veteran with many years of experience under her belt. She was homeschooling Saxon math before my kids were in school. Yet she had it and just so happened to decide to donate it the very week I needed it. And H just happened to be included in a text I almost didn't send and decide to give me the book.

I. I...don't really know what to say about this. I am astounded.

N.B. I should probably put my name in my books. Lesson learned.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Housekeeping Techniques

We are now far enough into the school year to assess how successful my summer projects were. Hard to believe it's been three months since I last posted about The Purge. I even have one last post about my closet languishing in draft.

On the whole the summer was a mixed bag. On the one hand, I am super pleased with my cleaned laundry room. I love walking into the room and knowing nothing is going to fall. The bookcase is not going to throw things at me. I don't have to contort myself with the laundry basket to make it across the room. It is a solid win. Also my closet is great. Spoiler from yet to be published post: I purged clothes, trashed a pile of stuff, and reorganized the school supplies. I can actually walk to the back on the closet. I can hang clothes without stepping over and standing on a pile in the floor. Again, this is outstanding.

However, on the other hand, this is not what I spent most of the summer doing. I spent the vast majority of the summer digging out the pit that is the upstairs. On this front, it's hard not to feel like I wasted so much time. Nothing is as bad as when I started in June, but nothing is clean anymore either. There's still too much up there. The children dump and walk away and then dump more on top. It's too difficult to keep them out of the unpurged boxes and so it all gets mixed back together.

I knew when I chose--and I did choose--to walk away from the upstairs and clean my closet, this would likely be the result. It just took so long to get everything organized, I had severe decision fatigue being upstairs, and I needed to get away from that stuff. This decision fatigue is probably why it was so difficult and took so long to clean out my closet. It's very mentally taxing to have to make decisions over and over and over. That sounds stupid to say, but it's true. Nevertheless, I needed to complete some project that was under my control to maintain and not subject to the sweet mercies of children. 

That's the summer recap: trying not to despair over all I didn't get done and trying not to think about the fact that next summer I will actively need babysitting again in order to work and probably won't get much of it. (I don't even know how to find a daytime babysitter that isn't a daycare.) But I am super happy about my closet and the laundry room.

Anyway. So I realized something about my housekeeping style this week. I may not get everything put away, but if the surface is clean, I will not pile. If I leave an item out that ought to be put away, it may look like I have forgotten about it, but I have not forgotten about it. I see it and WILL NOT put anything on top of it. If I should need the surface, I will put the stray item away. However if several things are piled up, it moves mental categories from 'simple task' to 'project.' Projects are mentally intimidating so projects get procrastinated. The problem arises that, since I do not live by myself, other people see the stray item as an invitation to pile. A table I have cleaned off quickly gets overrun while the item at the bottom is something easy to put away. I don't have wider lessons to draw here. I only noticed when I am likely to pile and when I don't. Maybe I should always put everything away every time, but that's not how life works.